Tornadoes - March 2009
Significant SPC Storm Reports
Severe weather affected the Midwest during the first weekend of the month. Thunderstorms brought not only damaging winds and hail, but also tornadoes to eastern Missouri and southwest Illinois. Based on preliminary estimates, a total of 25 tornadoes occurred during the late morning and early afternoon hours of March 8th. In Fayetteville, Indiana, 19 homes were damaged and 30 more homes were damaged further to the west in Loami, Illinois. No fatalities were reported. As the month progressed, the zonal flow pattern prevented any severe weather to develop, resulting in a below normal month for number of tornadoes. According to the SPC, the previous three-year average (2006-2008) for final number of tornadoes in March was 149. This year there were 123 preliminary tornado reports.
On Wednesday the 26th, a strong cold front interacted with the warm moist gulf air over the Deep South. The two systems created a stew of severe weather with hail in Texas and Louisiana along with strong winds that produced tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama. One of the stronger tornadoes, in Mississippi, was rated an EF3. There were 20 injuries and 60 homes that were either damaged or destroyed. It was also reported by the National Weather Service field offices that this particular tornado had a path length of 17.5 miles (28.2 km), a maximum width of 500 yards (0.5 km), and maximum winds of 150 mph (241 km/hr). The strong system also produced 12-16 inches (305-406 mm) of rain for the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana and southern Mississippi (Source: USA Today). A complete summary of the severe weather outbreak can be read on the Jackson, Mississippi National Weather Service page.
On the 27th, a tornado destroyed dozens of homes and businesses across south-central Mississippi, injuring dozens of people. The storms continued in Louisiana, Alabama, and North Carolina the following day, where several homes were destroyed and trees were toppled. An EF1 and EF3 rated tornadoes were reported in Kentucky on the 28th. On the 29th, the unusually strong late winter/early spring time storms damaged roofs and windows which caused three injuries in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Source: AP).